Sunday, November 10, 2013

Walking Without Words

It was the kind of slow, white, homogeneous jazz that worked on the mind much like warm milk works upon the body. The light of the room, cast in a series of concentric circles due to an intermittent build-up of dead bugs in the fixtures, only made it worse. And it was a yellowed light, the circular glass globes stained from years of cigarette smoke, such that it jaundiced everyone, everything, and gave the whole place the impression of badly developed film.

The quartet finished a little after midnight and the room’s lights were dimmed further so that the neon from the street bathed the front half of the bar in soft reds and oranges. The band sulked in the back, nursed their watery cocktails and blamed the crowd, the sound-man, the dead room for their flat performance. 

A broken-hearted bard at the bar mumbled into his beer, "Love is all tightropes and balancing poles and teetering high above the sawdust floors of life's incessant circus." And then to the rest of us, "Like being born again blind, like being a blind man led around a noisy foreign city, white-knuckle gripping a stranger’s unfamiliar hand."

I followed you out into the street. It smelled hot, like an overworked engine. Some guy was lighting your cigarette. The moon hung low, like the slow curve of a sickle’s blade. We walked toward downtown. Walking without words

The train station was poorly lit and too dark for easy reunions. Lovers squinted across the crowded platform looking for little flickers of recognition to flame out, and when I turned to you again the ticket puncher was punching your ticket. And then the train whistle wail, the horrible shuttering of steel, and the great groan of the griefward lurch.  

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